After two years’ preparation, Tangara commenced classes in February 1982 at Fox Valley Road, Wahroonga, with two teachers and seventeen students from twelve families. Some travelled daily from as far as Cronulla, Earlwood, Summer Hill and Vaucluse.
The founding parents were inspired by a ‘new’ philosophy of education centred on the primary role of parents in the overall character formation of their children, working together with teachers, through the Tutorial System.
Some of PARED’s founding members had experienced such family schools in Europe, and wanted to establish similar schools in Australia. The partnership of parents and teachers is reflected in the notion that the School should be a ‘home away from home’.
Each of the first families was represented in the working-bees which toiled hard to make ready in short time Tangara’s first accommodation: a converted pre-school cottage. The generosity and camaraderie of parents always found expression in such initiatives, though second always in importance to their commitment to meet regularly with their child’s tutor, and to attend the parent-formation activities offered by the School.
From those first two composite classes (Kinder - Year 2: 4 pupils and Year 3 - Year 5: 8 pupils), enrolments grew to almost one hundred pupils by 1985. In 1986, as Tangara’s brother school Redfield College began in the original Wahroonga premises, Tangara relocated to its present site, a former orange orchard in Cherrybrook. It occupied the first stage of part-Commonwealth funded school buildings, with the Administration offices in the farmer’s former dwelling.
Tangara’s establishment was made possible by the sacrifice and involvement of the first parents and PARED Board members. Apart from daily driving children and night-time planning meetings, they also provided the secretarial and cleaning assistance, as well as representation to government and education authorities, necessary to begin a school. Tangara’s first Year 12 class of twenty girls graduated in 1989.